IMDb Rating 7.3 10 4,539


Downloaded times
May 28, 2020



1.2 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
134 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 10 / 10 / 10

Kurosawa's final mellow mood

Kurosawa's last film was released in the US at his death, five years after it was made. It's the story of a retired schoolteacher and it's unabashedly sentimental and heartwarming, but unlike the lonely old man of the famous English schoolteacher tale Goodbye, Mr. Chips who has to be humanized and refuses to retire, Hyakken Uchida (Tatsuo Matsumura) is different from other men in his oddball attitude and intellectual accomplishments but neither lonely nor sad, and the story begins with his very willing retirement. He's both a mischievous joker and a happily married man who likes to stay up all night drinking and singing with his ex-students in all the years that follow that retirement depicted in the film. Uchida's quirky individuality is celebrated by his admirers, and the film depicts him solely in his relationship with them. They give him lavish presents (including after WWII a nice house with a liquid garden) and an annual birthday party, and they cherish his spirit, his personality, and his funny, thought-provoking remarks. Madadayo is based on a series of books in turn drawn from the life of an actual military school teacher. Teacher -- sensei -- of course has a special sense in Japanese. It's a role one takes on for life, and one's "sensei" is a permanent attachment based on admiration and respect. Corny and sentimentalized as this "sensei" is, he's a richly charming character and the way his former students carouse with him and cherish him before, during, and after the War is expressive of some of the best aspects of Japanese culture. At the annual parties, the ritual is that the sensei's students chant, Mahda kai?" (are ready?) and he sings out, "ma-da-da-yo!" (not yet!). But though he may not go gentle into that good night, he does accept old age with good humor. Madadayo is about growing old, about growing old frankly, growing old gracefully, about being useful as one grows old through dignity and humor, about the mutual benefits that accrue when the old receive the respect of younger generations. It's about old-fashioned loyalty to one's school, and about respecting and honoring eccentricity and respecting and honoring the intellectual type. The former students, who are doctors, lawyers, business men, and so on, recognize that in his oddball impracticality, his "absent-minded professor" style, their sensei possesses wisdom and creative individuality they lack and they always say he's "pure gold." One might imagine them proposing him for designation as a "national treasure." Sensei is absurdly weak and vulnerable at times, witness his emotional collapse when his wife's male cat Nora disappears and he goes to pieces with grief. But importantly he articulates this grief eloquently and with a certain detachment for his ex-students. And they respect his peculiarities so much that they send out an all points bulletin for Nora and are gravely concerned for his return. (It never comes, but the sensei's wife finds another cat and eventually both are memorialized by handsome gravestones in the garden.) However silly he is, his behavior is simply more enthusiastic and emotional than others', and finally this sensei simply represents what is wisest and most human. And sensei's wife represents a perfect, idealized traditional Japanese woman (without the function in her case of mother, however), always deferential, formal, polite, sweet, but elegant and noble, the repository of hospitality, the hearth, loyalty, goodness, patience, steadfastness: you can't help being impressed by the actress Kyôko Kagawa's supple, unflaggingly consistent, energetic but restrained performance, comparable to Tatsuo Matsumura's. As the sensei, Matsumura is an initially off-putting but ultimately irresistible and splendidly rich character -- pitiful, cute, wise, silly, tough, stridently singing his old songs and making his imperishable jokes which his many admirers never fail to laugh at loudly and delightedly. They need him tremendously -- this is the film's chief message, to value special people as they age -- and so they take wonderful care of him. When the film begins, his book sales have enabled him to retire and focus on writing in a small house. When the War comes it's completely destroyed by Allied bombs and he and his wife live in a tiny hut. At the end of the war the students build a lovely spacious house with a garden made up entirely of a "donut" shaped pool in which carp the sensei fancifully describes as "giant" can swim around endlessly. Many of the scenes are Ozu-like in their quietude and use of a stationary camera as the sensei sits with his chief admirers and drinks and talks, usually with his wife sitting by to supply food and drink. But there is a large cast of characters and in the final annual birthday dinner women and children and grandchildren are now present. The drinking of a large stein of beer by the sensei before he performs the "Mahda kai?""Ma-da-da-yo!" ritual and gives his amusing speech is probably based on Germanic practices: Uchida taught German and must have studied in Germany. The sensei's unflagging spirit and humor and his former students' equally unflagging devotion make for an inspiring and beautiful fantasy. It is a wise and pleasant dream, and Kurosawa's charming evocation of it speaks well of his final years. The film was made in 1993, released in the US in 1998 when Kurosawa died, re-released in 2000. It is timeless, and any year is a good year to get to know it and chew over its many, many endearing passages.

Reviewed by Irradiata 7 / 10 / 10

Beautiful ... how life ideally should be

I just finished watching "Madadayo" and can still feel tears welling up. I was moved at the beautiful movie and its message of kindness and living well. It took me a while to get into the film as it is rather slow and not much does happen, but Kurosawa is a master of mood, characterization and setting the scene and gradually, the movie takes its hold on you. The movie starts with the Professor's retirement from teaching. We learn he taught German, and he must have been a good teacher as well as quite a character, because large numbers of his students stay in touch with him through the decades. Kurosawa shows us that the students love and respect him dearly, as well as finding him eccentric. They refer to him as "solid gold". However, I kept asking "Why? Why would these people with busy lives, following their own paths, continue to hold birthday parties for their eccentric old professor?" And as the movie continued, I found myself answering my own question. Why not? It's a win-win situation for all involved. The students value the professor's company and despite joking protests to the contrary, the professor enjoys the visits and increasingly comes to depend on them. In post-WWII Japan, there must have been little to celebrate, so having an annual excuse to get together with people you enjoy would be reason enough. Kurosawa also expounds on one of his main themes from "Red Beard"; kindness begets kindness and that is what we continually shown in "Madadayo". The students help build the professor a new house after his home is destroyed in the fire-bombing of Tokyo. The professor loses his cat and the students and the community band together to try to find it, celebrating and congratulating one another when they think they find it, and commiserating and empathizing when they don't. The annual birthday parties continue and evolve from just the male students drinking with their professor to banquets involving their wives and children. I began to fall under the spell of how wonderful it would be to be part of this community, to know these people, to know there were others looking out for me, willing to help if I needed it, relishing my company, and knowing that once a year I could get together with all my friends from school (the ones we all lose touch with because our busy lives follow diverging paths), celebrate the life of a great man (a favourite teacher's lessons stay with you forever) and be part of something bigger and gentler and kinder. I can understand why someone expecting the excitement of "Seven Samurai", the suspense of "High and Low", or the innovation of "Rashomon" would be disappointed in "Madadayo", but if you enjoyed the lessons of "Red Beard", the gentle pull of "Madadayo" will delight and soothe you. You'll be left with a serene feeling of well-being, wishing you could be one of the Professor's students.

Reviewed by KFL 7 / 10 / 10

The fruits of quiet observation

I have to disagree with the individual who suggests that viewers who liked Ran or Seven Samurai will like this. I think the individual who compared this to some of Ingmar Bergman's work is much nearer the mark. If you're not ready to observe rather mundane happenings in the interest of understanding universal life experiences, you probably won't appreciate this film. It takes some serenity and patience on the part of the viewer, which however are rewarded. The English subtitles are competent, but cannot explain everything. The word for "fool" in Japanese is written using the characters for horse and for deer; hence the stew of horse meat and venison becomes a "fool's stew." And more importantly, the title Madadayo, though correctly translated as Not Yet, is very often associated with a game of hide-and-seek, with the children who are hiding crying "madadayo!" until they've found a good spot to hide. This will serve to explain the final scene, and make it more poignant perhaps...for the Japanese too speak of returning to one's childhood in extreme old age.

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